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Downpour in Haiti Heralds Approach of Rain Season

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The rain season signaled its approach early Thursday in Haiti, with a downpour that affected thousands of Haitian victims of the January 12 earthquake.

"When the rain season arrived, the problem will not be the people being wet, they will be towed away by the rain," said Alberto Wilde, director of a non-governmental organization working in Haiti.

Almost one month after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake, the Haitian authorities have not provided enough shelters for hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the quake.

The Haitian government has requested 200,000 tents to create temporary shelters to house 250,000 families affected by the earthquake. However, it has only received 22,000 tents.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday it is necessary to restore the forecast services in Haiti to avoid new disasters.

The rain season would start in April "with risks of flooding," and the hurricane season would begin at the beginning of June, said the WMO.

According to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, the initial cost to restore the basic forecast services in Haiti would be about US$1 million.

"But it will be a long-term strategy to build a more solid and efficient meteorology service, including radars and reconstruction of the main building, because at this moment the services are working inside a tent at the airport," Jarraud said.

More than 90 percent of the disasters in Haiti are often related to meteorology phenomena like tropical storms, flooding and landslides, whose consequences are worsened by the massive deforestation, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2010)

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